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Lots of kids go to Ireland for a better life but disappear. He was OK.

Some kids go missing, while others live like this.

Lots of kids go to Ireland for a better life but disappear. He was OK.
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The video below is based on a teenager's life. His identity was kept secret to protect his anonymity.

For the sake of this story, I'll call him Jay.


Jay's mom died when he was little, and his father lived a dangerous life. So when he had a chance to leave Nigeria at the age of 15, he did.

"I got the opportunity with my uncle to leave the country, and we came over here and decided to go seek refuge in a country, go somewhere safe."

But when Jay got to Ireland, it was clear that his life wouldn't magically snap into place.

"I never knew anything about Ireland until I came here. And at that point in time, I was like, 'If I go back home now voluntarily, I don't think I'll survive.' But if worst comes to worst, you know ... it's meant to be."

He's not alone. Since 2004, hundreds of unaccompanied minors have come to Ireland looking for better lives, according to the last reported count done in 2009 by the Ombudsman for Children's Office in Dublin, which advocates on behalf of kids.

"My uncle was an agent and just said, 'Go to the Justice Department ... and say, "Here I am."' Then I did that and he disappeared. ... I think I had a short-sleeve shirt on. And it was still sunny back home but it was freezing here."

Classified as "separated immigrant children" by the government, most kids like Jay get a tiny food stipend and are placed in youth hostels throughout Dublin.


"There are about 40 kids in there with just one person. ... Nobody is going to look after you. ... You're just basically told to go look for a school yourself."

After living in a hostel for over a year, 16-year-old Jay was called in for an interview at the Justice Department.

"That was scariest thing that ever happened to me. ... You were asked about ... very obvious things like why didn't I just leave from Lagos straight away. ... I was trying to get out of the situation there. I didn't plan all these things. ... I'm like ... 'I'm a kid, for crying out loud. How am I supposed to know I'm supposed to do this?' I came out feeling like a criminal."

He describes the citizenship process as a mental waiting game — one that not everyone wins.

"At some point, you finish school and then you're waiting, waiting, and waiting. You don't hear anything back for, I'll say, five years. ... If you wake up in the morning, you don't leave that room. You're still in the same surrounding. ... There is a friend of mine right now who is mad just from that. ... He was put in a hospital. ... He was someone who was very lively ... and eventually he couldn't even walk."

After being asked to leave the country, with the help of a teacher, Jay was finally given "leave to remain." He can stay in Ireland temporarily under certain conditions, like going to work or school.

Unfortunately, many of his friends didn't share his fate. Some of them went missing.

Sample missing-child flyers posted in Dublin

"It happened to one of my Chinese friends ... and a man named Zhen. The next day, there's no sign of them. And we asked them, 'What happened? Was he transferred to another hostel and we didn't know?' And his things were still there, obviously, so you're like, this is not somebody who just upped and left."


While most people might fear the worst, Jay says:

"I just want to think in my head that he's somewhere else, living happily and living safe, you know?"

My heart just dropped.

Watch his story in this documentary:

Fact Check Time:

The filmmaker, Anna Byrne, told us that, taking into account the children who weren't officially documented as missing, 500 is a more accurate number for the number of separated children who have gone missing than the Ombudsman for Children's publicly stated figure of 419.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

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Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.